Pet Pointers: Protecting pets from EEE
The EEE virus continues to be a threat to both horses and humans across the country. In this edition of Pet Pointers, Lisa Chelenza talks about the deadly EEE virus and what you can do to help prevent infection.
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Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but serious viral disease spread by mosquitoes that can affect humans and horses as well as other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. The virus has also been identified in several states along the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida as well as coastal areas of Texas.
EEE is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes will then occasionally feed on horses, humans and other mammals. Only certain species of mosquitoes can become infected with the EEE virus. EEE cannot be spread person-to-person, from people to animals or from animals to people.
Most people bitten by an infected mosquito will not develop any symptoms. However, people over age 50 and younger than age 15 are at greatest risk for developing severe disease that can cause long term neurological damage.
Flu like symptoms are the first sign of EEE infection, with severe symptoms being seizures coma, brain swelling, and death. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, and no effective anti-viral drugs have been discovered for the treatment of EEE.
To discourage mosquito breeding, change the water in troughs several times a week and clear standing water in buckets, tires and trash cans.
The EEE vaccination should be a part of annual veterinary care of your horse, but if you forgot and think it doesn’t matter, think again. Scientists say these virus carrying mosquitoes will be with us thru the fall and could be a problem until the end of November.
For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis/tech/epi.html#map.